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How to get a diversity certification for your business

There are many opportunities for diverse business enterprises looking to do business with major corporations and government agencies, but the first step is getting certified. The certification process takes some time and has associated costs, but it is time and money well spent if you are looking to grow your business and get new contracts. It is this certification that corporations and government use to ensure that your business is credibly established and that you are ready to work with large public and private entities. There are a number of agencies and organizations that certify businesses, so it is important to do your due diligence and pick the one that is best for your business structure and your desired business growth.

Minority-Owned business

  • National Minority Supplier Development Council advances business opportunities for certified minority business enterprises and connects them to corporate members. More than 1,700 corporate members rely on the NMSDC certification to seek diverse suppliers from among the more than 13,000 minority-owned businesses that are NMSDC members.
  • Small Business Association 8(a) Business Development program (sba.gov). Although the SBA is primarily known as an agency that gives loans to small businesses, it also certifies companies to be eligible to work on federal contracts. To help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) Business Development program.

Women-owned businesses

  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is the largest third-party certifier of woman-owned businesses in the US. United States. WBENC WBE certification is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America’s most prestigious brands, in addition to many states, cities and government entities.
  • Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program (sba.gov). Joining the WOSB Federal Contracting Program makes a business eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for the program. This program helps provide a level playing field for women business owners looking to do business with the federal government

    Small businesses

LGBT-owned businesses

Veteran-owned businesses

  • Vets First Verification Program affords verified firms owned and controlled by Veterans and Service-disabled Veterans the opportunity to compete for VA set asides. This program is a part of the US Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is the largest certifier of veteran-owned businesses. Run by veterans and for veterans.

Disabled-owned businesses

  • Disability:IN is a nonprofit resource that offers its certification to disability-owned business enterprises and service-disabled veteran-owned business enterprises.

Benefits of certification

The benefits of becoming a certified diverse supplier are numerous, including access to the following:

  • Databases: Certified diverse business databases allow you to search for prospective customers and clients who purchase the product or service your business provides. Likewise, your company’s information will be available so that other diverse businesses, major corporations, government entities, or customers can connect with you.
  • Networking opportunities: Events and conferences enable you to gain valuable face time with potential purchasers in order to increase awareness of your brand, develop relationships and increase the likelihood of establishing contracts with purchasers. In addition, certifying-organization sponsored events are an excellent venue to connect with other diverse suppliers to share insight, compare experiences and discuss future business opportunities or partnerships.
  • Educational opportunities and training: Certified diverse businesses have access to training programs, educational workshops and mentorship programs. These programs focus on strategies for selling to large corporations and best practices for obtaining government contracts, among others that will help you grow your business.
  • Loans: Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) or Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification is an effective way to receive assistance for securing loans. Initial funding will provide you with capital to get your business up and running. Existing small businesses also benefit from obtaining loans to acquire additional equipment, expand their workforce, or grow their footprint. During these Covid times, special loans were made available to diverse businesses well.
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